Tag Archives: Jose Oquendo

Cardinals set coaching staff

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting the Cardinals’ 2012 coaching staff has been set.

Just two days after introducing Mike Matheny as the organization’s newest manager after the retirement of Tony LaRussa, who had held the role for the last 16 seasons, the Cardinals have revealed their coaching staff.

The big news is that Dave Duncan and Mark McGwire will return to their positions as the team’s pitching and hitting coaches, respectively. Duncan will be entering his 17th season as the Cardinals’ pitching coach and the final year of his contract. McGwire will be entering his 3rd season as the Cardinals hitting coach. Under McGwire, the Cardinals led the National League in several offensive categories.

Derek Lilliquist will also be back in the bullpen as the team’s bullpen coach. No truth to the rumor that hearing aids were a requirement of his new contract.

In somewhat of a surprise, Jose Oquendo will return to the staff at his typical spot at third base. Oquendo was widely considered to be the manager-in-waiting in St. Louis and was the final interview for the manager’s seat. He was passed over for Matheny. My only concern is whether Oquendo buys in to Matheny as manager, which I’m assuming the organization would have checked on before announcing his return.

Mike Aldrete, who served as assistant hitting coach since 2008, will get a uniformed position as he takes over the role as bench coach from Joe Pettini. Aldrete was expected to be the leading candidate to take over the hitting coach position with the Oakland Athletics, but has apparently turned it down to return to the Cardinals.

Finally, Memphis Redbirds’ manager Chris Maloney will move up to the big league club to take over as the first base coach from Dave McKay. Maloney also interviewed for the Cardinals’ managing position. He has been involved with the Cardinals organization 20 seasons as a minor league manager. This is his first major league posting. Ron “Pop” Warner, who managed the Double-A Springfield Cardinals is expected to take over Maloney’s old position in Memphis.

According to the P-D, Pettini and McKay will be reassigned elsewhere in the organization.

Matheny named manager

After an interview process that lasted roughly a week, Mike Matheny stood in front of the cameras and was announced as the next manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was a field of six candidates. Jose Oquendo, Chris Maloney, Ryne Sandberg, Joe McEwing, Terry Francona, and Matheny. According to the team, after each interview they ranked their board of potential candidates. After his interview, Matheny went to #1 and stayed there, despite his lack of experience.

Matheny, 41, has long been predicted by those around the game to make a good manager. He has recently served as an assistant to General Manager John Mozeliak and has been an instructor at spring training for the team as well. Since he retired at the end of the 2006 season due to concussion related problems, Matheny has been involved with the Cardinals organization, leading many to believe that he would one day be destined for the big chair. However, going into the interviews, he was likely the dark horse candidate that nobody gave a real shot to.

He will now be the youngest manager in the major leagues.

Matheny played five of his 13 year career with the Cardinals. He hit just .245 with a .304 OBP, but took home three of his four Gold Gloves while playing for the Cardinals. He was the catcher who tutored a young Yadier Molina before handing the starting job off to him in 2005. Molina has received four Gold Gloves of his own in the years since.

The management decision was rumored to have come down between Matheny and former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona. In my opinion, Francona was only going to be a manager for a few years before we had to find someone else. Both in Philadelphia and Boston his end came when he could no longer reach and motivate his players. Matheny has the potential to be a much more longterm manager than Francona would.

Ultimately, I think the move will be good for the Cardinals.

First and foremost, he is already familiar with the team and has the respect of the players in the locker room. The Cardinals players who are on Twitter, like Jon Jay, David Freese, and Daniel Descalso made sure to applaud their new manager and let us know they were excited to play for him because they like and respect him. Two important keys for a manager.

Secondly, Matheny has worked with John Mozeliak on the front office side. He likely buys into the same philosophy that Mozeliak does as far as building the roster. I felt that since Mozeliak took over as the team’s General Manager that he and Tony LaRussa were oft times at odds about how they wanted to build the roster and what they wanted out of it. Now Mozeliak has his guy in the manager’s seat and those conflicts will likely be limited. But now Mozeliak can’t blame shortcomings on that relationship (not that he did, at least, not publicly).

Thirdly, even though he is inexperienced at this particular job, he is likely to be surrounded by experienced coaches and has a sharp baseball mind. Dave Duncan is under contract for 2012 and is expected to return to the organization as pitching coach. He and Matheny would have worked closely together over the five seasons Matheny spent as the Cardinals’ starting catcher. He also has a good relationship with hitting coach Mark McGwire.

Something Matheny will hopefully remember is that this is a championship team and while you do want to make your mark and make it your coaching staff, some consistency will be good for the team. No need to reinvent the wheel. But I see the desire for him to make it his coaching staff rather than LaRussa’s coaching staff.

At the same time, he needs to be his own manager. Don’t try to emulate someone else’s managerial style, be yourself.

The big question will be how we judge his success. He is being handed a World Series Champion. Is anything less a disappointment?

We as fans need to be careful how high we set that bar for him. It is his first year and he’ll be learning on the job. At the end of the year, I want a team that was in contention until late September and I want to see how Matheny handles games. Does he under manager or over manage? My biggest complaint about his predecessor was that I felt LaRussa could over-manage a game like nobody else and as a result managed us out of some games. There is a fine line to walk and I understand it could take him some time to find the right touch.

In the end, it’s a positive move for the Cardinals to begin the post-LaRussa era.

Oh, and for fun, Arthur Rhodes, who pitched last season for the Cardinals is 333 days older than Matheny.

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Who will be the next Cards Manager?

The Cardinals have had the luxury for the last 16 years of knowing exactly who was managing their ball club. After 33 years of managing Tony La Russa is hanging it up and going out a winner. Its the perfect scenario…the Cardinals have known since August of his intentions and then the remarkable comeback in September and the amazing playoff run that takes 7 games in the World Series in front of close to 50K people in your home stadium. That how you draw it up in fantasy land.

With TLR retiring the Cardinals identified 6 candidates that range all over the board of attributes and experience. Ryne Sandberg and Joe McEwing are quickly shooting up the ranks of potentially being the next great rookie manager. Jose Oquendo is a dedicated Cardinal family member that was thought to be the heir apparent to TLR the last few years. Mike Matheny is well loved and respected by Cardinal Nation and has played an instrumental role as a Special Assistant to the Cardinals in recent years though he has never managed. Terry Francona is the big name that had coached the BoSox for the last 8 years but was relieved of his duties after an epic collapse down the stretch. Then a slew of reports came out about players drinking in the clubhouse while the game was going on and how Francona had lost his players. Last but not least is current Memphis Cardinals manager Chris Maloney who has spent 18 years as a minor league manager mostly with the Cardinal Organization. These 6 candidates tell you one thing about the search: The Cardinals do not have a specific profile for their next manager.

So who gets the tough task of run the reigning World Champion Cardinals in 2012?

My preference is to go with Sandberg with Matheny coming in a close second. I give Ryno the nod mainly for his approach to becoming a big league manager. After a Hall of Fame career he didn’t expect for someone to just give him a big league job…he earned it by working his way up through the minor league ranks. He dedicated himself to learning all the way from a special assistant role for the Cubs in Spring Training to managing in A, AA and AAA for the Cubs Organization before being passed up for his first big league managing position with Sweet Lou was out as the Cubs manager in 2011. Ryno decided to take his talents to the Phils Organization to manage their AAA affiliate. Sandberg has gained respect from his peers and front office personnel across MLB. He is known as a very well prepared skipper and has an aggressive managing style. He likes to force the issue, movement on the base paths and hit-and-run. He is a great mentor, leader and seems to gain the respect from the clubhouse which is extremely important.

I personally am a fan of Matheny as a manager in the big leagues some day and feel he has a lot of the same attributes as Sandberg…but it would be extremely risky to put a manager in place that has never managed the game at any level to prove he can do it day in and day out. That’s why I tend to lean toward Sandberg. Some in Cardinal Nation want to see Ryno as the Cards Manager just to stick it to the Cubs…I’m not in that camp. I think you pick the right manager for the situation that fits into the Organization. To me that is Ryne Sandberg.

Cardinals begin manager search

Today was supposed to be the setup day as I began my post-season posting schedule on Friday, but consider this a special edition run. According to an article by Joe Strauss in today’s Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are beginning to interview their top rung of candidates for their open managerial position. So I decided I’d go ahead and just poach for fun. :)

According to the article there are less than 10 candidates on their short list of potential replacements for future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa. The list includes some minor league managers, some major league managers, some coaches, even a former Cardinals player that many fans could see as a future manager somewhere, someday.

Cardinals’ fans who really wanted Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon will be disappointed to find that the Cardinals haven’t opted to ask for permission to talk to him. Personally, I’m not surprised because Maddon is viewed as one of the top managers in the game today. He takes a team who has very little money or fan support and somehow has crafted them into a playoff team three of the last four seasons and took them to the World Series in 2008.

As the hunt begins, I’ll go down the list of names that have been officially connected to the search, presented in no specific order:

* * *

Jose Oquendo
Current Role: St. Louis Cardinals’ 3rd base coach

Jose Oquendo is for some reason the seeming most popular choice. On Derrick Goold’s Bird Land Facebook page, there is a poll about who should be the next manager of the Cardinals. For some reason, Oquendo is running away with it. Jose Oquendo has been viewed as the “heir apparent” to the managerial seat for the Cardinals, but I’ve never quite been able to understand why. Through his career he has interviewed for openings with the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and New York Mets. He was never in those franchise’s final list for some reason. I think that should be pretty telling, actually.

While he is a player beloved by Cardinals fans, I just don’t see him making a very good major league manager. I also feel that the candidate who becomes the next manager of the Cardinals should have managerial experience at some level. Beyond managing in a couple of World Baseball Classics, the grand total of Oquendo’s coaching experience is being ignored at third base. It’s a little thing, but if they don’t trust his decisions at third base on simple baserunning, why are they suddenly going to trust him in the bigger decisions? Just because his title changes?

I’ll pass on Oquendo.

* * *

Terry Francona
Former Role: Boston Red Sox manager

Francona is getting a lot of love from Cardinals fans who are looking at the fact that he is one of two managers to win two World Series’ in the last 10 years, joining Tony La Russa. In fact, Bermie Miklasz made that argument in an article for the Post-Dispatch.  How quickly they forget four horrible years as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Yet, when he showed up in Boston (inheriting a team that had lost the 2003 NLCS in 7 games the previous year, by the way) he won a World Series in his first season. The team typically had one of the top-3 payrolls in baseball throughout his tenure, something that he is very unlikely to have in St. Louis.

To me, Francona has too much baggage. The epic collapse at the end of the season combined with reports of players kicking back in the clubhouse during games are just too much for me. Yes, they might have been nothing, but it’s baggage that just adds to reasons why I don’t want him.

* * *

Chris Maloney
Current Role: Memphis Redbirds’ (AAA-St. Louis) manager

Maloney would certainly be the promote from within story. He began his managing career in 1991 with the rookie level Johnson City Cardinals for the organization. He has consistently posted a winning record in his minor league career and has won two league championships, including most recently the 2009 Pacific Coast League Championship. He has spent 5 years as the manager of the Memphis Redbirds.

The big advantage for Maloney is that he already has a relationship and rapport with many of the young Cardinals’ players. I’m willing to bet, with his time in the organization, that nearly every Cardinals draftee on the major league roster has played for him at some point. It would be his first big league job, but I believe it would also be a solid move.

One of the big things for me is keeping some continuity with the major league coaches. The last thing the Cardinals need is to have a World Series Championship team return for 2012 with a completely new coaching staff. There will be adjustment time and perhaps a missed window of opportunity to add championship #12 to the banners in St. Louis.

* * *

Ryne Sandberg
Current Role: Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs’ (AAA-Philadelphia) manager

Many fans know him from his days with the Chicago Cubs, on the wrong side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. However, can the Cubs’ loss once again be the Cardinals’ gain? Sandberg started at the bottom with the Cubs and managed his way up their organization before losing out to Mike Quade on the major league managerial job before the 2010 season. Spurned, Sandberg moved on to the Phillies organization to manage their AAA team.

The Cubs have informed Sandberg that they don’t intend to hire him to replace Quade this season, and the Cardinals have asked for permission to talk to him about coming to manage in St. Louis. Many believe that Sandberg will make a great manager someday. He was the 2010 Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.

Sandberg has long said his ideal job would be managing the Chicago Cubs, where he starred as a player and became a Hall of Fame second baseman, but would he give up the love of Cubs’ fans to work for the Cardinals? That would be a big question for him to answer, and I personally think he is our best candidate right now.

* * *

Joe McEwing
Current Role: Charlotte Knights (AAA-Chicago WS) manager

McEwing is known to Cardinals’ fans who saw him play two seasons for the big league club. In 1999, he hit .275 including a 25 game hitting streak and finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. However, he was dealt following that season to the Mets. He began his minor league coaching career in the minors with the Charlotte Knights, the White Sox AAA club, as their hitting coach. In 2009 he moved up the road to Winston-Salem, their A club, to manage the team. He spent last season managing for the Knights and is expected to be Robin Ventura’s new third base coach with the White Sox next season.

He should be another solid candidate and is certainly one of those players that St. Louis loved who had more scrap than skill. Better than Stubby Clapp and Bo Hart, though. I think McEwing would be a solid choice, not the best one, but a solid one.

* * *

Mike Matheny
Current Role: None

Mike Matheny was the Cardinals’ catcher from 2000-2004 where he was the starting catcher and even helped tutor a young Yadier Molina in the ways of handling a pitching staff. He has spent the last few spring trainings working with the Cardinals pitchers and catchers as a special assistant, so he is familiar with the majority of players on the team.

Many believe that Matheny should make a good major league manager, and if not a manager, a pitching coach. I certainly don’t disagree, but his lack of experience in any of those roles certainly makes me question if he’s the right choice for the Cardinals right now. I wouldn’t complain with the pick, but lack of experience would be a concern. However, the majority of the Cardinals’ coaching staff would likely stay in their roles if Matheny were to join the team, so he would be surrounded by experience and if he’s willing to make use of that experience he could be allright.

* * *

That’s a look at the top names that seem to be on the list as the future manager of the Cardinals. If I had to order how I would hire people,

1. Sandberg
2. Maloney
3. McEwing
4. Matheny
5. Oquendo
6. Francona

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens. The Cardinals hope to name their manager before the annual General Managers’ Meetings on November 14th, but say that they should have something by Thanksgiving. Whoever gets the job will be inheriting a team that should be expected to repeat as World Series Champions. That’s high pressure right there.